… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
I have two boys, so I have been living in action figure superhero world for quite a while now. What this world has taught me is that although all superheroes are different, they all have one thing in common: they all possess a superpower – something that they were either born with, discovered after a spider bite, or developed over time by sheer will and persistence. Once their superpower is refined, there’s usually no way to defeat them; the superhero always end up the victor in whatever the battle or calamity of the day is.
Our church has been blessed with an amazing priest named Father Brian. He gives sermons week after week that not only rivet me, but rivet my kids! With each sermon, he uses a prop, some concrete item that further illustrates whatever point he is trying to make that day. Once he used a delicate sweater to explain that we can’t shrink in the face of insults or mistakes we make. Instead, we need to have enough confidence in ourselves that we stay strong like the sturdy shirt he hung beside the delicate sweater.
My favorite prop so far has been the teflon pan. Father Brian pointed out that nothing can stick to it. He went on to equate the teflon pan to gratitude. When we are being grateful, nothing can stick to us: we can’t stay angry, sad, disappointed or fearful. Gratitude makes these emotions shrink and slip away.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on that analogy. After much thought, combined with my experience living in superhero world, I’ve concluded that gratitude is a superpower! If we choose to activate it, there is no way to defeat it. There is no villain who can rob us of it.
As a mom, I have to wield the power of gratitude on a daily basis to fight all kinds of battles and calamities to “save” my kids. When Zack can’t go to his friend’s birthday party and is fighting tears of disappointment, I have to point out that it’s because we’ve already committed to seeing his other friend in a Christmas pageant that same day. Gratitude makes him realize how fortunate he is to have two great friends who extended invitations to him, albeit both at once. When Mason gets frustrated when something he creates doesn’t come out perfect, reminding him of all his gifts and talents brings him back to center. When Jocelyn wakes up in the middle of the night petrified from a bad dream, we take turns listing all the wonderful things in her life: family members, friends, toys, etc. A gratitude list triumphs over bad dreams every time.
Although the quintessential accessory for a superhero is a cape, the most important accessory for the superpower of gratitude is the lens of right perspective. This lens changes how we see things; it sharpens our vision. When we look through the lens of gratitude, all the negatives in our lives seem to blur into the background, and all that we are grateful for comes into focus. That is right vision; that is how God views things.
We were all born into this world with this superpower: seeing the good, oblivious to the bad. Unfortunately, as we grow up, society tries to strip us of this by spotlighting all that is wrong with the world. There’s no doubt that as adults we can no longer be oblivious to the bad, but God’s will for us is to still be grateful in all circumstances. This is the superpower that He gifted us all with to conquer sadness, disappointment, anger and fear.
So dust off your vision, accessorize yourself with a lens of gratitude, and be a superhero in your own little corner of the world!
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